Allodynes and Allodynamics

Irrespective of age or locale, allodynes abound as constituents in the surviving record of oral narrative traditions everywhere, even though such traditions have seldom been completely recorded by even the best of collectors; such fictive beings have fairly pullulated in the story-telling of very epoch and every known human culture, and they ubiquitously display common characteristics. The advent of writing as a new medium of narration in some parts of the world has in no degree diminished the scope or variety of fabulation about allodynes—has, indeed, if anything only enlarged and extended both.

Unlike magicians, sorcerers, witches, and the like, that are imagined to be magically potent only intermittently or in particular circumstances, allodynes are constantly and inalienably intelligent praeternaturals. The play of imagination and concomitant narrative about such allodynamic ‘persons’ being universal features of the extended human phenotype immediately raises the question for an inquiring modern mind as to what they are ‘good for’ (or perhaps what they were at some past time good for, should there happen possibly to be some difference between the two). No sooner however does one ask that question than its two twins also present themselves: what is the etiology of such habits, and what exactly is their defining composition?

Some allodynes are, or at some time have been, religiously significant (even worshipped), while others conventionally belong only to ‘entertainment,’ like the following speakers quoted in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:


Imagine if you will... the leader of the Fifth Exploratory Expedition speaking to the commander-in-chief...

“They’re made out of meat.”

“Meat?”

“Meat. They’re made out of meat.”

“Meat?”

“There’s no doubt about it. We picked several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, probed them all the way through. They’re completely meat.”

“That’s impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars?”

“They use radio waves to talk, but the signals don’t come from them. The signals come from machines.”

“So who made the machines? That’s whom we want to contact.”

“They made the machines. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Meat made the machines.”

“That’s ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You’re asking me to believe in sentient meat.”

“I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in the sector and they’re made out of meat.”

“Maybe they’re like the Orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage.”

“Nope. They’re born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn’t take too long. Do you have any idea the life span of meat?”

“Spare me. Okay, maybe they’re only part meat. You know, like the Weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside.”

“Nope. We thought of that, since they do have meat heads like the Weddilei. But I told you, we probed them. They’re meat all the way through.”

“No brain?”

“Oh, there is a brain all right. It’s just that the brain is made out of meat!”

“So... what does the thinking?”

“You’re not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The meat.”

“Thinking meat! You’re asking me to believe in thinking meat!”

“Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you getting the picture?”

“Omigod. You’re serious then. They’re made out of meat.”

“Finally. Yes. They are indeed made of meat. And they’ve been trying to get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years.”

“So what does the meat have in mind?”

“First it wants to talk to us. Then I imagine it wants to explore the universe, contact other sentients, swap ideas and information. The usual.”

“We’re supposed to talk to meat?”

“That’s the idea. That’s the message they’re sending out by radio. ‘Hello. Anyone out there? Anyone home?’ That sort of thing.”

“They actually do talk, then. They use words, ideas, concepts?”

“Oh, yes. Except they do it with meat.”

“I thought you just told me they use radio.”

“They do, but what do you think is on the radio? Meat sounds. You know how when you slap or flap meat it makes a noise? They talk by flapping their meat at each other. They can even sing by squirting air through their meat.”

“Omigod. Singing meat. This is altogether too much. So what do you advise?”

“Officially or unofficially?”

“Both.”

“Officially, we are required to contact, welcome, and log in any and all sentient races or multibeings in the quadrant, without prejudice, fear, or favor. Unofficially, I advise that we erase the records and forget the whole thing.”

“I was hoping you would say that.”

“It seems harsh, but there is a limit. Do we really want to make contact with meat?”

“I agree entirely. What’s there to say?" ‘Hello, meat. How’s it going?’ But will this work? How many planets are we dealing with here?”

“Just one. They can travel to other planets in special meat containers, but they can’t live on them. And being meat, they only travel through C space. Which limits them to the speed of light and makes the possibility of their ever making contact pretty slim. Infinitesimal, in fact.”

“So we just pretend there’s no one home in the universe.”

“That’s it.”

“Cruel. But you said it yourself, who wants to meet meat? And the ones who have been aboard our vessels, the ones you have probed? You’re sure they won’t remember?”

“They’ll be considered crackpots if they do. We went into their heads and smoothed out their meat so that we’re just a dream to them.”

“A dream to meat! How strangely appropriate, that we should be meat’s dream.”

“And we can mark this sector unoccupied.” “Good. Agreed, officially and unofficially. Case closed. Any others? Anyone interesting on that side of the galaxy?”

“Yes, a rather shy but sweet hydrogen-core cluster-intelligence in a class nine star in G445 zone. Was in contact two galactic rotations ago, wants to be friendly again.”

“They always come around.”

“And why not? Imagine how unbearably, how unutterably cold the universe would be if one were all alone.”


That allodynes of expressly religious significance are not typologically distinct from many others devoid of religious coloration in the minds of persons who entertain such fictions has frequently been noticed and sometimes puzzled thinkers inclined to reflect upon the matter. But the two kinds of mind—the one a fertile nest of such fictions and the other given rather to analytical reasoning about them than to generation of them—have seldom been one and the same. So, for example, Robert Kirk’s Secret Commonwealth, composed in an early modern scientific vein by a country clergyman in Scotland at the end of the 17th century, implicitly recognizes the equivalence of religiously important allodynes and those of ostensible religious irrelevance that belonged to local oral traditions. But his train of thought, typical of its kind, diverges so much from a traditional story-teller’s and story-hearer’s way of thinking that it cannot at all adequately characterize such habits of fabulation as are manifest, for example, in Norwegian legends about huldre-folk. Nevertheless, as has for millenia been true for instance about traditional Greek allodynes, various and variously motivated analytical reports describing such fictive beings may largely omit authoritative verbatim textual corroboration gotten from the mouths of actual believers without in the least obscuring the underlying truth that all anyone knows about anyone else’s allodynes derives ultimately from someone’s spoken fabulation.

On the grounds that what they fictively do far outweighs in importance what they putatively are (and, indeed, that the latter is only an incidental consequence of the former), I think it best to put aside the less accurately descriptive words ‘praeternatural’ or (even less satisfactory) ‘supernatural,’ and set out instead with better semantic coin to explicate the subject.

Allodynes (noun) are allodynamic (adjective).

Allodynamics (noun) are the putative praeternatural “powers” or processes whereby allodynes function praeternaturally; such processes are by definition occult, either unknown or unknowable to the generality of mankind. The putatively inalienable, inherent possession and wielding of such powers are the defining features of allodynes.

Allodynamism (noun) is the sum of allodynamic functions said to adhere in given allodynes, and/or their ability to exercise those functions. For example, in Christianity the allodynamism attributed to the Christ includes restoration of life to the deceased; in Hinduism, Ganesha confers good fortune on mortal supplicants; etc.

Here is a little gallery of images of various allodynes in prominent religious traditions.

Without intending it—and one might even say, somewhat grudgingly—a prominent present-day evolutionary biologist enunciates the primal etiology of allodynes:

Each of us builds, inside our head, a model of the world in which we find ourselves. The minimal model of the world is the model our ancestors needed in order to survive in it. The simulation software was constructed and debugged by natural selection, and it is most adept in the world familiar to our ancestors on the African savannah: a three-dimensional world of medium-sized material objects, moving at medium speeds relative to one another. As an unexpected bonus, our brains turn out to be powerful enough to accommodate a much richer world model than the mediocre utilitarian one that our ancestors needed in order to survive. Art and science are runaway manifestations of this bonus.

- Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
(2006), pp 361-2

Whether allodynes and their allodynamism are manifestations belonging more to art or to science seems a question apt to confound any ultimate distinction between the two domains; but however that may be, Dawkins’ notion of the human mind as entertaining such fictions by virtue of an “unexpected bonus” of evolutionary adaptation unwarrantably relegates the kind of thinking that produces and sustains them to the status of a mere unexplained side-effect only more or less coincidentally devolved from some shadowy other, more essential capability.

Without venturing further into direct description of what exactly that more fundamental capability of the evolved human mind might be, Dawkins does at least have a bit more to say about how it functions:

What we see of the world is not the unvarnished real world but a model of the real world, regulated and adjusted by sense data—a model that is constructed so that it is useful for dealing with the real world. The nature of that model depends on the kind of animal we are.

...the nature of the model is governed by how it is to be used rather than by the sensory modality involved.

The God Delusion, pp 371-2

As a modern natural scientist, Richard Dawkins is understandably reserved about ‘emergent phenomena’ of uncertain derivation from known properties of the physical world. With the worldwide evidence of allodynes in oral narrative traditions before us, we however can certainly observe wider application—even wider adaptive application—of Dawkins’ “simulation software” in the generic human brain than he has ventured to describe.

The imaginative faculty—a sixth sense

For one thing, the evidence of oral narrative traditions strongly suggests that even before its sojourn on the African savannah, the evolving proto-human mind ran its “simulation software” not only to indicative purpose, but also in subjunctive, conditional, and optative modes, to say the least. As do other languages, English possesses many words denoting latter-day operation of this same multi-modal faculty of mind when it

The multiple modality implicit in such a variety of names for this one action of the mind and its products derives not from the thing itself, but rather from the great diversity of ‘input and output filters’ applied to it in the many particular cultures, collective or personal, where it is exercised: stimulations and incitements to it are highly diverse and variable, as are also control and application of it products. This is of course the general rule about human cultures everywhere, that necessary processes of life common to all mankind (food-acquisition and eating, mating, reproduction, etc.) result in highly divergent local manifestations not because the fundamental processes themselves differ, but because interpretation and conventional management of them locally diverge. So what induces its exercise on the one hand and how its products are managed on the other define the apparent modalities of the imaginative faculty, which apart from those external controls is hardly distinguishable as other than one and the same mental function wherever it is found and however named.

The evolutionarily adaptive value of the human imagining faculty can hardly be doubted. That the loud alarm-calling of chimpanzees who have spied a venomous snake does not excite others of their troop who have not yet seen it energetically to scan their surroundings for sight of the reptile is certainly a chimpanzee ‘failure of imagination’ to a human way of thinking. The chimp instead waits passively for the danger, whatever it might be, to present itself in his present field of vision because, we suppose (exercising our human imagination), he cannot imagine what he cannot see, and so can have no idea what to look for.

So we are given to understand the most rudimentary virtue of the human imaginative faculty: it is the means whereby we ‘see’ whatever is presently invisible to us (and also ‘hear’ what we cannot hear, ‘smell’ what we cannot smell, ‘feel’ what we cannot touch). This little Parable of the Chimpanzees and the Serpent (which is, for its time and place, itself a typical expression of the imagining faculty), also well illustrates another primary fact about imagination: it can confer no very great or long-term advantage on its possessor or its possessor’s genetic replicators until such time as its products are able to be communicated socially. Only when they are channelled into language and so rendered moveable from one mind to another—from parent to child, for example—does an abstract, intangible notion of a viper gain real power as prophylaxis against snake-bite.

Analogy and subjunctivity

Another inherent trait of the imagining faculty is that it operates by analogy; only those things are imaginable that are analogs of things previously imagined. In accordance with that law, one may analogize upon the Parable of the Chimpanzees and the Serpent with another about (Primordial Human) Hunters and Lion on the African Savannah. If a human hunter of whatever epoch would survive and propagate his genes in that environment, a transient localized movement of tall grass should suggest to his imaginative faculty the possible presence of a lurking (stalking?) lioness where the grass has moved, even if no one has, or perhaps ever will, actually see a real, physical lion at that particular place. Such an act of imagination as it were in the subjunctive mood is surely no mere epigonic ‘bonus’ latterly derivative from some hypothetically simpler prior capacity for imagining; on the contrary, it is an inevitability—it could not be otherwise—in the primal nature of the imaginative process; for once something has been imagined at all—become an abstraction in the mind—no real, physical referent need exist thereafter to ratify or enable unlimited further imagination of it or its analogs.

A mind consistently able to surmise that a slight, localized movement of high grass on the savannah might signify a stalking lioness is in the most direct sense an evolutionarily better adapted mind than one unable to ‘know’ the predator before it is fully present and accounted for by the body’s sensory apparatus; or as Homer said it, ῥεχθὲν δὲ καὶ νήπιος ἔγνω—even a fool knows a thing after it has happened. Obviously therefore the imagining faculty’s primal virtue resides in its methodically dependable yield of subjunctive prediction. An inability thus proficiently to ‘think’ in the subjunctive mood—to construct in the mind what might possibly exist whether or not it has ever actually been experienced by one’s own sensory system, or in other words, to conceive a plausible fiction—such a disability being the very definition of a fool’s folly, the capacity for subjunctive surmise must have emerged quite early indeed in the overall development of distinctively human intelligence.

It follows rather inescapably from what has been said that the better the mind, the more πολυμήχανος it must be—the more able it must be to conceive possibilities of many kinds. For once the boundary between modelling in the mind only what perceptibly is and what conceivably might be has been breached, the route to Dawkin’s “runaway” art and science is obvious: we are programmed by our basic nature as biological beings first to speculate and surmise copiously what might be, and only thereafter to concern ourselves with selection or proofs of that process’s output.

Although the imaginative faculty—the power to surmise—is thus fundamentally not much trammeled by the limitations of observed reality, it is nevertheless strongly stimulative of further processes not easily distinguishable from ‘scientific reasoning.’ When a small patch in the endless expanse of tall grass on the savannah moves, how does it move? Does the upper portion of the stalk sweep gracefully in relative slow motion, flexing less in its middle section than at its top (only a zephyr’s worth of disturbance)? Or is the motion rather a kind of shiver, with the mid-portion of the stalk displaced before the head, and imparting movement to the head only after and in consequence of its own (some animal hidden at its base being then the probable cause)?

Conditionality and the cascade of choices

As such ‘scientific observation’ runs its course and delivers up what it can to fuel further speculation, the decision-tree for the surmising-and-observing human mind grows new branches: what might have begun as a choice of merely stay or flee expands to include now also observe further; should the thing causing the movement prove more probably to be predator, perhaps attempt to frighten it; or if it prove to be more probably some game animal, perhaps hunt it down; or else perhaps pass on, leaving the initial question deliberately unresolved. Thus does imagination habitually trigger cascading choices of action in the human species, and this, however it might have originated, seems surely to be the principal long-term adaptive utility of the trait.

The expanded, patient kind of thinking that produces such a cascade of choices appends a conditional function to the simpler subjunctive of basic surmisal: it processes an initial subjunctive conception through a logic of antecedent and consequence, a logic of “if X, then Y.” By thus testing an inherently present-tense concept’s validity (Y) against an inherently preterite condition (X), an individual speculating mind in a healthy (sane) person is able to control—both extend and trim—its own imaginative function.

But every individual’s faculty of imagination is ever subject also to intense countervailing social pressures of both encouragement and discouragement. “You only imagined it was a lion” one hunter would say accusatorily to another on the African savannah when a young gazelle of tender flesh might break cover and escape from the factitious predator’s imagined place of concealment in the moving grass, “and because of your over-active imagination we’ve lost our dinner.” Or alternatively, “he should have considered the possibility of a lion” a surviving hunter might say after the lion, proving itself real, has pounced and mauled his companion. The hunter who would not venture beyond his homestead because he imagined deadly vipers and raging lions everywhere were differently but no less disabled than the one who would not hunt because he could not imagine game anywhere; and their society decries both alike.

The potential for incurring social disapprobation is moreover multi-dimensional: some are said to imagine / surmise / speculate / fantasize / conceive too vividly or too often, others too weakly or too seldom; others too meagerly, and yet others too abundantly; some are “too unimaginative,” while the imaginations of others “run wild,” and madmen “hallucinate.” Everyman sits in judgment of every other’s imaginative faculty, and everyone objects to someone else’s suppositions. The universality of captious attitudes toward the imaginative faculties of other persons strongly suggests that so-called “re-entrant consciousness” in Man is not so reliably an awareness of one’s own consciousness as it is a consciousness of the consciousness of others, especially its shortcomings.

Dislike of reality

The unremitting troublesome reality of such perceived shortcomings is only one feature of Reality that humans dislike. Others include venomous serpents, predacious lions and crocodiles, and the inadequacy in our own nature that obliges us alertly to beware such hazards rather than—as we can readily imagine, and therefore readily wish—being so superbly crafty and invulnerable as to render such caution unnecessary. If only (optative) we were allodynes... .

In both its etiology and in its peculiar liability to social contention and challenges, the human capacity for hypostasizing allodynes and allodynamism is only one of several such-like innate, genetically based mental facilities that are everywhere locally provisioned by culturally inculcated, taught and learned formulations differing picturesquely from place to place, from one community to another, and from one era to another. Quantitative nothingness, singularity, multiplicity, and entropy all objectively exist, but local ways of calculating and assigning numbers and of reckoning time are only lambent human practices, only provisional methods lodged in human brains for modelling exigent elements of nature and adjusting human actions and expectations to ambient reality. Gods and other allodynes are contrivances of the same sort relative to other, otherwise intractably mysterious, troublesome, or downright unintelligible elements and aspects of experience. In this sense gods, arithmetic, and clocks have much in common.

Allodynes share perfectly with the imaginative faculty of the human mind that creates and sustains them an absolute dependence on preterite postulation. Whether operating in its simpler, subjunctive, or its more complex conditional mode, the imaginative faculty proceeds by constructing analogs of remembered previous perceptions, and because these are necessarily previous, of necessity they cannot be communicated to other persons—and much less can the analogs derived from them be defended against other persons’ predictable cavil—otherwise than by presenting them in a past tense, as historically corroborative reasons for their narrator’s present conceptions. Argument in a court of law or in a scientific journal, from a pulpit, or at the helm of a vessel on the high seas is not in this respect different from the mythology of allodynes. The primitive etiology of narrative as integrative corroboration of present idea(l)s explains much about not only myths, legends, epics, ballads, and folktales in oral traditions, but also about romances, novels, drama, chronicles, law and theology, among other artifacts of writing.

Credence

No matter how a particular conception has been formed, action in consequence of it (including exfoliation from it of further conception) depends absolutely on some form or degree of credence in a prospective actor, who must believe as motive for his action that the concept in question is in some manner valid. A subconscious process of validity-checking in normal minds confirms sight-, sound-, tactile-, taste- and odour-images by comparing them with mentally stored profiles of known (i.e., previously experienced) entities. Once they have obtained that autonomic validation, images induced by the five primary senses are enveloped with normally impugnable credence. Concepts produced however by the sixth ‘sense’—imagination—have no such autonomically generated protective blanket of credence, and so stand forever exposed to the conscious routines of actionable doubt, to deliberate error-checking and correction—the ‘filtration’ mentioned previously.

Functioning as a kind of sixth sense generating abstract images which by design do not necessarily—or even perhaps very often—have actual referents in the real world, the imaginative faculty thus poses continual problems for the conscious mind not only of whether to believe, but also of how much and in what connection. That it should be so is hardly surprising given the certainly later evolution of the imaginative faculty relative to the other five senses.

Assembly in the growing mind during juvenile years of image-verifying profiles to interface with the basic five senses, like the acquisition of vocabulary in a native language, is mostly an unconscious process, and therefore seemingly effortless—it ‘comes naturally’ as we are accustomed to say in English. But no comparably instinctive mental behaviour contributes anything to a similar archive in memory of credibility-testing profiles for screening the imaginative faculty’s abstract artifacts; such an accumulation must be created, if at all, only by consciously undertaken, strenuous, systematic study in mature years. So one studies the law, medicine, theology, or any other suchlike system of prior postulates, finding credence and credibility-checking in any such system every whit as evanescent, kittle, and disputatious as their counterparts are confident, automatic, and dependable with respect to the five other senses. Kinds and degrees of personal ‘cultivation’ in some such ‘discipline’ are directly measurable by observation of individuals’ sixth-sense filters.

Not only is there a profound chasm of difference between the two kinds of image-authentication—the one instinctive and the other learned—regarding their manner of acquisition and sureness of operation, they are also very different in gradation. The mind authenticates an object seen as either a bird, or not; a sound heard as a child’s voice, or not; a taste as salty, or not; a surface as smooth, or not. Resolved as by a Boolean function, such decisions about credence-worthiness in the healthy subconscious mind yield a simple clarity: one or the other, yes or no, rarely ambiguous.

No such straightforward simplicity governs authentication of the imaginative faculty’s output as credence-worthy or not. I am a physician; I suppose that my patient is tubercular; how much is my diagnostic conception to be trusted, and if indeed the patient is tubercular, how severely so? Or I am a trial judge; the prosecuting attorney argues that the accused has committed murder; to what extent should the jury believe it, and if indeed murder has been done, in what degree? Merely imagining what someone else has done—or anything else—without having actually witnessed it when it happened is notoriously error-prone.

Credence relative to figments of the imaginative faculty is therefore commonly graduated, especially when the figments concerned originate in other minds than one’s own, and the graduation extends along all manner of axes. Sometimes it is lazy, lax, or detached (“I don’t know, I don’t care, and it doesn’t matter”—Jack Kerouac); sometimes energetic (“I absolutely believe we live in a deterministic universe”); sometimes tentative (“until somebody comes up with a better idea”); sometimes partial (some features of the concept in question, but not others—“I believe in the Father and the Son, but not the Holy Ghost”); sometimes contextual (“death in the medical context is cessation of electrical activity in the brain, but in a religious context it is extraction of the soul from the body by an allodyne”); sometimes temporary (until the circumstances of the idea change—“It was murder, unless of course the killer was only defending himself against the deceased’s threat of deadly force in his own home”); sometimes sometime (“sometimes I think Kulin Ban knew in 1189 that Frederick Barbarossa had captured Adrianople, but other times I can’t believe it”); sometimes multifarious (“death is irreversible sleep, and departure of the soul by its own volition when its body becomes uninhabitable, and being hit by Apollo’s or Artemis’ invisible arrows—all of these together at the same time in every instance”); and sometimes dependent on collocutor (“I tell my parish priest I believe in God, but I really don’t”). One might also justly call this last, collocutor-dependent variety mendacious credence, and it is of course very common everywhere.

Sometimes too, at the extreme end of the spectrum of gradations, there is what may be called totalitarian credence, a fundamentalist variety of belief so unqualified that it admits no deviation whatever from a single proposition and derives all else from it (e.g., “death is stoppage of motion, and every other agent and event in the cosmos results from it; holding any opinion otherwise is the most culpable and most dangerous possible moral turpitude”).

Credence regarding allodynes varies from place to place and person to person in all these different ways.

Allodynes and Religion

Considerable confusion exists about the connection between allodynes and religion. First, only a minority of allodynes known to the science of narrative traditions are, or have ever been, intrinsic figments of religion. Much of the confusion relates to why religion has any use at all for even that minority of allodynes which it has utilized. It is perhaps an understandable confusion, given that religion is everywhere, despite its selectivity about which particular allodynes it employs, a fabric of further fictions woven around allodynes and their allodynamism. A great part of that fabric is however ritual in nature, not narrative, and accurately to understand how allodynes participate in religion one must distinguish clearly between religion’s ritual and narrative components.

For reasons explained elsewhere, a religion is not a religion without its rituals, the idiosyncracies of which chiefly differentiate it from other religions; it can however—and often does—share fictive allodynes with other rites. The ritual component is what one does physically in the practice of a religion; the rest is all abstraction, grist only for the imaginative faculty’s operations. Naturally, the utility of the religion as a whole must be explicable in the mind of its adherent mostly in terms of the religion itself, making explanations from that source scarcely objective. So it happens that most of our scientifically attempted explanations of why people are religious come from disbelievers, a good many of them avowed atheists whose main objections to religion are accordingly about its allodynes and not much, if at all, about the truly operative elements of religion, which are its rituals. Observers incredulous specifically of religious ritual have correspondingly contributed most to scientific explanation of religious behaviour. And naturally too, their explanations explain far better the taxonomy, functions, and etiology of religion’s rituals than its allodynes.

Allodynes and atheists

Atheists, concerned as they differently are chiefly with disavowal of—i. e., denying credence to—allodynes, have tended rather mistakenly to think that if only the credibility of religion’s allodynes could be destroyed religion would collapse, not understanding how merely incidental and tenuous the allodynes’ connection with religion really is. The deep-seated difficulty for their outlook is the deep-seated reality that no one really has to grant anything like totalitarian credence to Allah or to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost to be accepted as a good Muslim or a good Christian provided the ritual requirements are dutifully met in the given religion; the most that can actually be exacted by any religion is a mere mendacious credence, which by nature need be no more real than the allodyne(s) named in it.

Another common mistake is the idea that theologians fabricate allodynes. They do not. Oral traditional story-tellers in oral narrative traditions make and sustain allodynes, which theologians only posteriorly adopt and interpret.

So one is driven to understand that allodynes, while engaging and sometimes even charming elements of religion, are in no sense its vital organs. It is nevertheless at just those organs that the most prominent recent atheists, no differently than their precursors of previous decades and centuries, continue principally to aim their attacks. Thus, for example, in his book Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, Daniel C. Dennett imagines the prime motive of religious devotion to be a religionist’s quest for divine approval—which is as much as to say, the approval of fictive allodynes. Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion takes an initially different approach but arrives at the same cul de sac; he surmises that people are religious mostly because their parents teach them to be—using of course myths about fictive allodynes as foundations of the instruction.

The question about all such atheistic conjectures concerning the raison d’être of allodynamic myths in religion is ever the same: why desire the approval of allodynes, what possible good can it do? Why such dutiful filial obedience to parental precept, what possible good can it do? The atheists answer “none, therefore it is misguided,” leaving most of mankind under the imputation of a veritable madness. But of course they are not mad, and Bronisław Malinowski knew a better answer long ago: where science is inadequate to accomplish what Man wishes—whoever’s science, at whatever local stage of development—religion is the recourse. It is not to be approved, or to gratify parents, or for any other reason that people are religious than to obtain power when other resources deny it, power to cope with harms and dangers against which they are otherwise defenseless, power to gain and create benefits otherwise out of reach. And what is more, for that purpose religion palpably, demonstrably succeeds.

Religion is a mechanism for consolidating community and social collaboration. The football team praying together in Christian fashion before the second half and the platoon joined in similar prayer before an amphibious landing on a hostile shore are all of a piece. If, to echo Richard Dawkins’ gibe, their God created the world in only six days and a fatherless dead man emerged living after three days of entombment, then they too conceivably might ‘beat the odds’ and prevail against their statistically superior opponents or survive their enemies’ resisting gunfire at the shoreline.

The evidence of such behaviour is richly instructive. It makes no difference whether events in our universe are by nature random or deterministic, predicting the outcome of most rapidly transpiring complex processes is for human intellect either tenuous quesswork or altogether impossible in the present state of anyone’s science. It is exactly in suchlike conditions of powerlessness that humans congregate in communal rituals (such as shared prayer) whereby they socialize with each other in the real world of their five senses and simultaneously with allodynes and their fictive powers in the abstract world of their sixth sense, their imaginative faculty. Which alone sufficiently explains why, as George Santayana astutely observed, “religions do not disappear when they are discredited; it is requisite that they should be replaced.”

Because human intellect is limited as it (presently) is, humans never know for certain whether doubtful things can be done or not until someone or something has either done them or failed; which is precisely why they are “doubtful.” What is therefore always needed in exigent cases is a courageous and patient acceptance of trial, and the mythical allodynamic ‘miracles’ of religion supply in such cases invaluable, collectively known and communally remembered redundant precedential analogs of events contrary to apparent probability. Thus religion confers a precious kind of power, the power of resolve either to do or to endure in the face of long odds. One may rationally criticize and complain about the specious reasoning involved, but where better reasoning is unavailing, this particular species of specious reasoning confers power; that is what it is designed to do, that is what it effectively does, and that is why it indefeasibly persists. So crucial is this system to religion everywhere that it really deserves elevation to the status of a general principle:

religion is communal socialization
with allodynes and their fictive powers.

Rarely is the entirety of such a community physically present or directly participant in ritual episodes of such socializing; often it involves no more than a pair of co-religionists: “You need the services of a good engineer. If you won’t hire me because I’m particularly skilled (we both know I’m not very), then hire me because we’re both good [insert designation of religion here]s, it’s the correct co-religionist thing for you to do; I’ll be religiously loyal to you, and we’ll muddle through together somehow with our allodynes’ help.” If such an incantational ritual-à-deux has ever succeeded, as unquestionably its moral equivalents very often have in the history of the world, its genuine power is proven beyond a doubt.

Religion and money

Rehearsing its canonized narratives about religiously instrumentalized allodynes is itself one of any living religion’s important rituals, but that implies no inherently religious significance of the narratives themselves, which, like the pieces of paper in banknotes, do not at all constitute the value that they only represent as they circulate in the community of their users. Like money, they are only fungible counters or tokens of such value, which exists only in a religious community’s tacitly consenting acceptance of them as certificates of arbitrary abstract worth independently of their actual substance. Accordingly one may, as atheists virtually do, denigrate and revile the paper in the banknote to one’s heart’s content, but that does nothing to diminish its utility to those whose common currency it is, much less can it persuade them to abandon such mere paper in favor of—what? For allodynes they must have, as surely as they must have money. And just as mutations of currency only replace one coinage with another but never eliminate the very concept of money and the kinds of transaction it enables, so too notions of better religion sometimes arise, while the notion of no religion remains simply absurd.

Money is a fictive system for exchanges of value; worldwide, there exist numerous local varieties of that system. Religion is similarly a fictive system for manipulations of power; worldwide, there exist numerous local varieties of that system too. Both systems enable and enhance social coöperation, and are adaptive to the extent of their success to that effect. Both systems also tend to be compulsory; some degree of social disability, not to mention severe physical consequences, is commonly the penalty for failure to coöperate socially in one variety or another of both the two systems, monetary and religious.

No one devises and sustains a religion solely for his own single observance, which would be a truly unaccountable extreme of freakish eccentricity. To be sure, everyone privately adopts and observes what can reasonably enough be called personal rituals, but by definition those can be religious only inasmuch as they obey a wider community’s prescriptions for such behaviour. Similarly, individuals may be free to entertain in their private minds as many and as diverse narratives about allodynes as they please, but only those that have been religiously instrumentalized by a wider community as specific tokens of its operative religious ideas need be—or should be—ritually rehearsed within the community.

Allodynes and morality

Religiously instrumentalized allodynes are everywhere averred to necessitate—disapprove or prohibit, or oppositely, approve and assist—certain human conduct; disavowal of the existence of such ‘morally loaded’ allodynes implicitly denies their authority (or their ability) to sanction human behaviour, and is therefore commonly regarded as immoral. Much of the element of compulsion in various religions is attributable to this cause. Considering that adherents of any given religion probably have a better presentiment than dissociated persons can of what adverse conduct might result in themselves—or more importantly, their religiously tame but otherwise probably very dangerous co-religionists—from their denying the existence of morally sustaining allodynes, a prudent sceptic is usually well-advised to eschew intimations of scepticism when conversing with avowed believers.

Regulating and limiting ideas about them, religion in literate cultures has tended ever towards canonization of its morally instrumentalized allodynes, a development impossible while the sole conveyance of narrative about allodynes was by oral tradition. Although fixation of narrative about religiously implemented allodynes in writing has thus been a relatively quite recent innovation in the certainly much longer overall course of mankind’s experience of religion, it has contributed appreciably to many a present-day religion’s long-term success in winning and retaining adherents. In this aspect particularly it may be useful to think of religion as extension of human phenotype.

A cognate explicit or implicit claim of finality, of non plus ultra, is at the heart of every long-enduring, allodyne-canonizing religion, and has often been thought pernicious in its tendency to ‘close the minds’ of such religions’ adherents. Seen from the adherents’ point of view however, religion and its adoptive allodynes whether canonized or not open an adherent’s mind rather than closing it, and open it moreover in precisely that one most important of all respects, namely the acquisition and morally right use of power in all three departments of experience where such power is essential:

1. The sectary’s imminent vital needs and the consequent problems of what to do and how to do it for their satisfaction;

2. The sectary’s analysis and comprehension of his universe, large and small;

3. The sectary’s concise formulation and easy remembrance of ultimate, long-range desiderata for betterment of his being, ideas otherwise prohibitively too complex and booby-trapped with lacunae of nescience for most minds.

A religion’s repertory of allodynes symbolically delimits and injects content into each of these departments of its functionality, which are the three correspondent spheres of its allodynes’ allodynamism.

1. Religions prescribe specific procedures and routines for their adherents’ daily living and for transitions between successive stages of life; these are what the religiously instrumentalized allodynes are said to mandate.

2. A religious follower’s world in its immense totality is as it is and displays all its significant features as it does because by stages allodynes of yore made it so.

3. Ideal, optimizing desiderata of betterment for the human condition are also neatly encapsulated and made memorable by the allodynes: how splendidly useful it would be, for example, to fly through space as many allodynes do in narratives about them! And how useful it would be not to lose consciousness permanently by reason of death, but rather to go on consciously existing with no limit of time or other constraint beyond a human’s own volition—as again allodynes do in traditional tales about them. But of course to achieve that we must first somehow learn to be perfect, as the allodynes are, and as their imagined being persistently suggests how we might become so... .

Most human beings do not have, and of course never have had, either the leisure or inclination to think through individually even some considerable small part of such grandly all-embracing pantology as religion thus puts ready-to-hand, at once compendious, concise, and easy to assimilate, in the sum of the narratives about its chosen allodynes.

Allodynes and science

Pre-Copernican ontologies (and their continuations down to and including the present day) regard(ed) the biosphere of Earth as the central and most immediately significant feature of reality. Consistently with that attitude, allodynes are everywhere thought of as either presently being, or at least at some past time having been, living entities. Chief among the specifically allodynamic features of such ‘life-forms’ are their supposed perdurability and peculiar avenues of address. (Unaddressable or otiose allodynes get short shrift everywhere.)

All actual forms of life being selfish by nature, it can be no surprise that praeternaturally potentiated—i. e., allodynamic—beings are considered by humans desirous of manipulating their powers to be also living ‘persons’ motivated by the same kinds of emotion and purpose as are ordinary people (and therefore similarly selfish); allodynes are consequently ‘different’ forms of life only insomuch as they are typically stronger and approach to them is esoteric.

Such beings resist the objections to their existence of modern quantum physics by means of the claim made for them that their being is outside and apart from the quantic multiverse, or else somehow mystically cryptic within it. But what is said to exist only outside the multiverse of quantum physics, or only unknowably within it, cannot be considered to exist at all except as fantasy within the framework of modern scientific realism, which is thus fundamentally irreconcilable with any and every concept of allodynamism. For this reason, those with little or no comprehension of modern scientific thought often condemn it as bleak, immoral, and frightening. For them, a cosmos without allodynamism, wherein human intelligence and human abilities alone are available to serve human purposes, is alarmingly indifferent, terrifyingly uncontrollable, and immoral—all of which of course only reiterates and confirms the previous observation that humans generically dislike Reality. No matter how much they may individually come as a matter of personal philosophy to desire otherwise, humans are inherently unable benignly to accept Reality not only due to its perpetual uncontrollable mutations and its many mechanisms beyond their understanding, but also because, unlike so many other mammals, they cannot at all simply exist in unaltered natural surroundings. Not only must they adapt themselves morally as well as physically to their various and varying environments; even more are they be their own evolved nature compelled ceaselessly to adapt their ambiences to themselves. To accomplish this biologically imperative purpose, they must continually imagine and re-imagine—ideate—suitable adaptations, deliberately rejecting what they know in simple truth about their surroundings and conceptually remaking their circumstances by substituting for rebarbative features of Reality whatever such more congenial inventions as fecund reconstructive imagination may be able to conceive and implement against the counterforces of established facts and habits.

Thus the many features of the real world—of Reality—that are inherently ill-suited or as yet inadequately adapted to human needs and desires make Reality at best an often uncongenial habitat, and exigently compel us to imagine it altered in order that eventually it might somehow actually be altered. And yet everyone everywhere imbibes with mother’s milk a fundamental understanding also that in Reality, no matter how expertly formed and well implemented they may be, human desires, intentions, and capabilities offer only a grossly inadequate vantage for controlling the fluctuating synergy of natural processes that sustain life. For effective control, nothing less than allodynamism can imaginably suffice.

Persons such as Richard Dawkins and David Deutsch, and a further tiny minority of mankind like them, possess a native propensity to question—to relish awareness of one’s own not knowing, to perceive nescience itself as an almost miraculous opportunity for enjoyment in the same sense that good appetite imparts desirability and worth to fine dining. Such persons desire to learn and to know as both intrinsically rewarding and necessary for the ultimate public good, not only for the pleasure and benefit of themselves privately. Their singular qualities of mind and the rare opportunity afforded them by exceptional wealth and leisure for such pursuits enable only a miniscule part of humanity in only a tiny number of places in the world to live their lives in this, from the rest of mankind’s point of view, really quite eccentric fashion.

It is a patent fact furthermore, itself needing certainly to be better understood, that even when given every opportunity and encouragement to join in the rare pleasure of such activity (though relatively few of the human race ever are), most people effectively decline it, in many instances with mere indifference, but also in some with positive hostility, sometimes even quite violent hostility. Such persons decidedly prefer to use whatever powers of mind they possess in serving either desuetude or the more immediate pragmatic concerns of their lives, and so in this regard they willingly share the involuntary fate of most of humanity’s billions, who either never have, or never perceive that they might have, any choice of that sort. Paradoxical as it may seem, a good many professional philosophers (not to mention out-and-out religionists) have in recent times and for various reasons even advocated such an uninquiring way of life as rationally less futile than a life of skeptical questioning.

Allodynes have the virtue of neatly, and indeed almost imperceptibly, bridging the difference between those few for whom their own acknowledged nescience is a welcome challenge to improve understanding and the many others to whom such a challenge is unavailable, unwelcome, or even repellent. To gain what passes as a pragmatically sufficient comprehension of otherwise uncanny powers and dominations in their little-liked real world, the latter have only to accept and remember as given the culturally inherited conceptions of allodynes propagated in the traditions of their people; no further expenditure of intellectual effort is required. For the far lesser number of restlessly curious and intellectually dissatisfied persons meanwhile, traditional systems of allodynamic memes have historically served equally well as stimulating constructs of virtual reality, as systems of tokens that have roughly taxonomized if in no adequate way actually explained the underlying mysteries of physical nature and of material being.

This capacity of allodynes for dual service to two quite different human mentalities has been apparent ever since its first considerable documentation in ancient Greek philosophy, and it has no doubt contributed much to the persistence in tradition of lore about allodynes and allodynamic powers.

For example, the inquiring mind of Charles Darwin in Victorian England well knew the traditional religious asseverations of his time about the allodyne(s) Yahweh/Elohim and His/Their putative creative techniques, but found those averments insufficiently explanatory of the underlying mysteries not only despite the prevalent, traditional lore of his era about divine creation, but indeed also exactly because that selfsame lore made a discrete addressable issue of how creation happened in general, and how the creation of living things happened in particular. Thus the biblical Book of Genesis served some (a passive majority) as simple verity, and others (a speculating minority) as an every-bit-as-valuable starting place for hungry acquisition of an improved understanding about mysteries exquisitely encapsulated, if in no way conclusively explained, by the traditional allodynamic motifs of Yahweh/Elohim and His magic touch.

Nor are allodynes ever necessarily diminished, not to mention annihilated in narrative tradition, by new knowledge emergent from ‘under’ them through the agency of energetic dissatisfied minds. In large measure just because of creationist objections, “classic” Darwinism has spawned numerous offshoots of “neo-Darwinism” since 1859, and creationists themselves have been driven in their intellectual competition with Darwinian evolutionists for public credence to such radical departures in their own ideology as the reinterpetation of Yahweh/Elohim as an “Intelligent Designer,” leaving religious creationism and modern Darwinism alike at profoundly evolved distances from their respective starting-points, and both exceedingly more dialectically diverse and variegated in detail than they were when their competition began.

The pragmatic confidence bestowed upon adherents of religion by simple knowledge of religiously sanctioned tales about allodynes and their putative powers on the one hand, and the progress of science in achieving genuinely improved understanding of real natural mysteries on the other hand, have thus not been mutually exclusive. For every averred instance of magic—allodynes and allodynamic powers preëminently—is a marker laid down by tradition upon the surface of reality where, beneath the superficial appearance of things, there are in fact resident specific problems awaiting the eventual solutions of improved, ‘deeper’ scientific explanation. By their very adherence to and maintenance of traditions about the magic of such things, those who have no perceived interest at all in discovering nor any appetite for solving such problems are not only complicit in laying down the markers, they are indeed the chief agents thereof. And scientific half-measures are, rightly, never enough to deter them; the unscientific, mythically imbued moiety of mankind do not remove their magic-markers from intellectual terrain that is uncanny to them until such time as the pertinent problems and questions are well and truly, comprehensively and definitively, solved and answered.

Deracinating allodynes

No one therefore who understands tradition should imagine, for example, that creationism might somehow be made to disappear until such time as not only genomes, all the molecular characteristics of genes and polygenes, and the precise relative statistical weight of various forces in natural selection are fully understood; the entire detailed chains of events at the cellular and molecular levels throughout embryonic development in every kind of multicellular form of life from genotype to phenotype will also have to be interpreted and mapped out in full, and the specific chemistry of the origin of unicellular life exactly recreated, before the last traditionally justifiable grounds for imputation of allodynamic magic will finally fall away and the cultural signpost marking the location of the magic—the allodyne—can finally be discarded.

Atheists and other sebophobes vis-à-vis religion intriguingly resemble oncologists vis-à-vis cancers, detesting their enemy intensely while at the same time partly fascinated by it, but most of all needing more intimately and intricately to understand its exact nature and causations than they presently do. For their particular benefit, here is a brief, four-part program for elimination of religion and its allodynes from the catalog of human miseries.

1. Ban its rituals (it is the practice of religion—its rituals—that sustains it, not its myths).

2. Systematically replace its social efficacies with easier and more efficient ones.

3. Establish working outposts of real knowledge everywhere in the intellectual landscape that narrative tradition has laid down markers of mystery by its averment of allodynamism.

4. Engineer solutions to all the most persistent and heretofore intractable human cravings represented by allodynes.

To whatever extent and for however long a time secular endeavours fall short of perfection in any of these four areas of activity, allodynes and religions that utilize them will certainly continue to flourish. One remembers for example that for many centuries—how many no one will probably ever know—certain allodynes were conceived as possessing the power of aviation, a humanly desiderable capability—an allodynamism—quite beyond any human engineering skills anywhere for as many millenia as history encompasses. Cultures that have made pictures of their allodynes have left no doubt what they were imagining:

The ancient Greek allodyne Θάνατος—Death—on
an Attic red-figure vase of the late 6th century b. C.

The principal interest of suchlike aviating allodynes has always resided in what they may be imagined to convey with their speedy aerial mobility for either the advantage or detriment of ordinary mortals, as in both the preceding and following ancient Greek depictions, where indeed it is the very person of a favored mortal that is shown about to be aerially transported, the slain warrior hero Sarpedon by Thanatos directly in the image above, and the thriving culture hero Triptolemos on a flying chair allodynamically devised for him by the beneficent allodyne Demeter, below:

The goddess Demeter dispatching the young man Triptolemos
in a flying chair on an Attic red-figure skyphos,
early 5th century b. C.

More ancient Greek allodynamic aviation:

An aviating allodyne annunciates a way to immortality
for humans. Painting by Lorenzo di Credi (1458-1537).

Thus as usual the allodynes’ allodynamism demarcates the ‘magic’ of a highly desirable capability beyond the present compass of human attainments. Eventually however—though centuries and millenia may pass in the interval—even while some continue as Lorenzo di Credi did to limn traditional images of traditional allodynes, others take up the implicit challenge of ‘rationalizing’ the allodynes’ ‘magic’ and turn to science and engineering for real physical acquisition of the allodynes’ coveted allodynamism:

Sketch-designs by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) for
a flying machine, fuselage (above), and wing (below)

While traditional allodynes keep the ideals that they embody effortlessly ever-present in the mind of everyman regardless of individual creativity or lack thereof, the slow and arduous science and engineering necessary to reify those ideals progress in the hands of a few to eventual creation of real physical simulacra of the previously only imagined powers:

The Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina,
17 December, 1903

A flying chair, 21st century a. D.

A flying human, 21st century a. D.

Invidiously comparing traditional allodynamic fiction with the modern geological science of techtonic plates, Richard Dawkins wrote in the first edition of The Ancestor’s Tale (p. 287):

The legend of the roc, the fabulous great bird with the strength to shift elephants, is a wonder of childhood. But isn’t the story of how the very continents themselves are shifted, through thousands of miles, an even greater wonder, more worthy of the adult imagination?

The answer to Dawkin’s rhetorical question must be a clear and resounding no, because as a function of the biologically evolved human mind the human imagination is humano-centric, and so is the roc (together with its cousin the simurgh) as an artifact of human imagination. As a human, whether adult or juvenile, I simply must be more interested in the idea of being aviated at will whither I please whilst needing to comprehend nothing of aeronautics or aerodynamics, requiring no hugely expensive, service-hungry, noisy, complicated mechanical contraption to do it, having instead ready-to-hand an organic, hatchable aerial equivalent of Odyssean Alkinoös’ sentient ships wanting only to be told my destination to transport me and all my precious cargo in the twinkling of a nap-time to whatever place I name regardless of the distance. NASA engineers may even now be slowly, laboriously chipping away at that same bloc of hard problems, but those problems will none of them be soon solved, and meanwhile they and I alike need the traditional fictions to show us the way, because rocs, simurghs, and all other suchlike allodynes severally and together constitute both the catalog of such desiderata and the skeins from which ultimate solutions are to be teased out (think for example feather-flexing airfoils, contraction-driven propulsion, electro-chemical control systems...).

Apart from their relation to earthquakes and tsunamis, drifting continents atop tectonic plates of the earth’s mantle are by comparison mere idle pastimes for human fantasizing, and who but the superannuated rich in a few small purlieus of the world can afford them? But a roc and a simurgh everyman anywhere of whatever age instinctively understands with all that they imply for his conceivable rise to a higher and better being.

Allodynes incarnate improbability, and humans revere improbability because it enfolds their all and every hope of overcoming the stark deficiencies of Reality. Science in either its present or any foreseeable future state is no even remotely adequate substitute.

Immortality

Like the desire to aviate as allodynes do, another commonly coveted allodynamism has long been independence of human minds and consciousness from any (one) particular embodiment. Concisely put, dysfunction or demise of bodily vigour ought not to attenuate, much less terminate, trouble-free perception, memory, and reason. Often simplistically defined as ‘immortality,’ this ancient and universal human desire has spawned and sustained innumerable allodynamic personifications of it, some of them gods and goddesses of religion. These collectively demonstrate that the ideal of indefeasible mind and inexpugnable consciousness is not in fact any one single immutability, but rather a bundle of ameliorations, including immunity from the necessity of sleep (which should be strictly elective), from involuntary extinction, from disease and toxicities, from both the enfeeblement of age and the immaturities of youth, from inanition, involuntary confinement, from trauma, and from truncation (e.g., seeing but not hearing; reasoning and communicating only in numbers or in words, but not both). No one needs to be told that liberation of mind and consciousness from confinement to a single perishable body is essential for satisfaction of this multiplex human desire.

Science insists that in reality mind and body are incapable of separation, but ignores two essential facts about the efficacy of such insistence: 1) human beings do not like reality, especially reality about the puny nature of themselves—we do not any of us understand very well how to obtain and achieve all that we want, but every normal human is born an indefatigable genius of dissatisfied wanting—and 2), humans everywhere believe that conscious mind and body should be separable, whether or not science can presently envision such a thing. Allodynes keep this ideal vivid and ubiquitous until such time as science and engineering in their habitually tardy, groping way may at long last discover erstwhile unimagined means to the desired end.

Perhaps therefore with the passage of time, when science and engineering shall have somewhat satisfied that longing too by some presently unforeseeable convergent series of discoveries and inventions, allodynes embodying invulnerable immortality of mind and consciousness (and having religious rituals for its achievement by humans prescribed on their behalf by other humans) may also become images as quaint and as disused as the once so numinous aviating allodynes have become since the advent of actual flying machines. Until then however, religions and their immortal allodynes will surely continue to occupy everyman’s imagination.

From the foregoing considerations it is plain that natural science and engineering, being too arduous and gradual in their achievements, are powerless to dispel religion within any calculable span of time. Certain observable realities suggest however that social science and engineering may have better leverage. Weak communal coöperation in satisfying individual needs and wishes evidently encourages the growth of religion. Conversely, socially mild environments, where stronger communal coöperation diminishes obstacles to the gratification of individual needs and wishes, are places where religion and its allodynes tend to languish. Successful socialist polities seem to tend toward the remission of religious fervour within their confines, religious fervour being an expression of the fervents’ incapacity in other pursuits.

Man or allodyne?

Allodynes are sometimes imagined as being aniconic, but the “god-in-man” fiction, whereby they are described as having or temporarily assuming human form, is extremely common. This is never to say that they are human, only that they may have the appearance of being human, or that one of their allodynamisms is dissolubly to reify themselves as, or otherwise to occupy, human bodies. Such anthropomorphized allodynes abound, as for example the ancient Semitic Baal as seen in surviving plastic art.

Some religions prescribe techniques for human attainment of allodynamic status, although success in such endeavor is always measurable by the degree of an aspirant’s disjunction with ordinary humanity; the two conditions, allodyne and human, are everywhere understood not to be more than transiently or provisionally concurrent in one and the same person. A prominent example is the bodhisattva of Buddhism.

The prescriptions of systematic religion are however unessential for generation of such allodynes-in-the-making, as found for instance (among countless other examples) in etiology of the Chinese Demon Chaser.

An effective means of signaling the presence of allodynamism in the physical representation of such beings has sometimes been to depict them as having mixed forms, partly human but partly something else as well, like the one on the left of this ancient Mesopotamian sealing.

Regarded collectively, allodynes possess the powers to do or to be all the things humans might desire being able to do or to be without actually being capable of doing or being those things. So, for example, Shiva possesses the allodynamic power, among others, to overcome and incapacitate other allodynamic agents that are thought of in Hindu religion as responsible for evils, an ability widely desired by but seriously wanting in mankind, who in Hindu religious tradition must therefore rely socially upon Shiva for that purpose.

Many of humanity’s most extraordinary architectural creations have been erected expressly to facilitate just such communal socialization with allodynes.

*

corrected 4 · iix · 2013

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